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family

The sun has got his hat on – and so should your child

By | baby health, children's health, Education, family, Health, Safety, Summer, swimming | No Comments

When protecting children from harmful rays, clothing is just as important as sunscreen, say dermatologists at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in Horley.

Putting sunscreen on children is one of those chores that can bring a cloud to an otherwise sunny day. A familiar sight on a beach is a parent restraining a child with one hand and quickly rubbing cream in before their ‘little prisoner’ breaks free to head once more into the water.

They won’t thank you now but protecting your child from the sun’s harmful rays could prevent them from having skin cancer when they are in their 30s – and struggling to apply sun cream to their own children.

But parents forget how vital clothing can be. Long sleeved tops, wide brimmed hats and special UV protective swim
wear are easy to put on as part of getting dressed to go out for the day, and often tick a box with the fashion-conscious child. Synthetic fabrics are better than cotton as the weave is not as loose. Hold the material up to the light to see how much filters through and choose clothing with a tight weave. Dark colours such as reds, blues or greens are more effective at blocking sun rays than white, light or pastels – and have the added bonus of making it easier to spot your child on a crowded beach or park.

Even on warm but overcast days, the UV rays can still penetrate through clouds, so continue to protect your child with clothing and sunscreen. And encourage them to cover up or play in the shade during the peak times between midday and 3pm when the sun is at its most harmful.

Children naturally have more exposure to sun as they are more likely to be running around outdoors partially clothed and in and out of water. Trying to re-apply sunscreen every two hours may not always be practical, so clothing can be a parent’s biggest ally. Add a good sunblock and shade, and you will be giving your child a very precious gift that will last a lifetime – that of reducing their risk of skin cancer in later life.

Children can be ‘slippery fish’ when it comes to applying sunscreen. Reduce the stress for you and them by trying these top tips:
• Make putting on sunscreen a natural part of the preparations for going to the park or the beach. If it becomes a ritual, like brushing teeth, children will be more accepting.
• Make it family fun – help each other to apply sunscreen in front of a mirror so you can see which bits you’ve missed.
• Don’t leave it to the last minute to apply sunscreen – as soon as they see the water or playground you will have a battle on your hands. Instead, apply sunscreen before you leave the house. Sunscreen works best after half an hour anyway.
• Time reapplications with a snack or treat for distraction.
• A squirming toddler? Then apply as much as you can while the child is strapped in their buggy or car seat.
• For quick reapplications, use a spray, but avoid eyes and mouths and encourage your child to hold their breath while you apply it. Or invest in a roll-on sunscreen so children can do it themselves.

Did you know?
UV light can penetrate car windows so invest in a stick-on UV protection screen. And certain medication, such as antibiotics or malaria tablets, may make your child’s skin more susceptible to the sun’s rays.

What sunscreen to choose:
Look for a sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection. An SPF of 30 or more with a UVA rating of 4 or 5 stars is a good standard of sun protection for children. Opt for water-resistant creams if your child is
a water baby.

Babies and sun:
Babies under six months old shouldn’t be exposed to sun
at all at this age as their skin burns more easily. When outdoors, always put a baby in the shade with a parasol and fully covered in clothes, with
a wide brimmed hat.

Banishing the misery of prickly heat:
Prickly heat usually appears as tiny bumps on the neck, chest, shoulders and back and is caused when sweat gets trapped under the skin blocking pores or sweat ducts. Babies and small children are prone to prickly heat. The rash usually disappears after a few days but ease symptoms by giving your child a cooling bath and keep away from the sun. Dress them in loose cotton clothing and encourage them to drink plenty of water. If your child is prone to prickly heat, give them an antihistamine half hour before you head outdoors.

Eczema and sunscreen:
Finding an SPF sunscreen for eczema prone skin can be a challenge. There are plenty of ultra-sensitive sunscreens on the market, which are free from perfume and parabens – preservatives used to stop sun cream going mouldy which can aggravate eczema.

If you are using a product for the first time, test it first by putting a small amount to the pulse of your child’s wrist or the crook of their elbow. Don’t wash that area for 24 – 48 hours and watch for any allergic reaction such as redness or a rash.

Advice from Dr Sandeep Cliff and Dr Noreen Cowley, consultant dermatologists at the Spire Gatwick Park Hospital.
Call 01293 778 906 or visit www.spiregatwick.com

What is a celebrant and what do they do?

By | family, Legal, Relationships | No Comments

by Alexandra Harrison
Celebrant

You might ask, “A what-a-brant?” A celebrant is someone who writes and leads personalised ceremonies. An example is a naming ceremony, which is a special way to celebrate the birth of a baby or officially welcome your child/children into your family. It is a secular (non-religious) event, and an opportunity to gather friends and family for a beautiful and memorable gathering.

A celebrant can lead a ceremony anywhere, any time. It does not have to be at a licenced venue (but it can be!)

In the 21st century, many people are moving away from traditional christenings or baptisms and are choosing a naming or welcoming ceremony instead – sometimes known as a civil ceremony. These are led by an independent celebrant.

When your child is born you may have already chosen their name, but for some parents it may take a while. The name you choose may have personal meaning but whatever the reason it is one of the first gifts you will give your child – after life itself!

What makes up a ceremony?
Well, it is really up to you and what you want. During a naming ceremony, there is no set script or structure. You can include many different elements or options to make it personal to you and your family. With a celebrant, the ceremony is designed around what is important to your family – and what you want to say to your baby/child/children. You may have different beliefs or faiths and wish to incorporate something from both. A celebrant will guide you through all the different options.

Can I have my own vows or promises?
Yes, of course. A celebrant can help you write these.

Can I include other people in the ceremony?
Definitely. It is a lovely idea to include other people. These could be grandparents, aunts, uncles or other guiding adults (known as guardians or supporting adults). Or it could be brothers and sisters who want to welcome their new sibling. In fact, involving them can play a really important part in giving them their own sense of importance and responsibility for their new sibling. Giving other children a role in the ceremony can even help with jealousy issues.

Can I have symbolic elements or rituals?
Yes definitely! For instance, a ‘sand ceremony’ is a powerful way to represent the joining of
a family, where different coloured grains of sand are poured into a single vase representing the blending of a family never to be separated. The ideas are endless.

Your celebrant will guide you through and help create both an order of service and the ceremony itself, linking together all the different elements you have chosen. A service will normally contain (but not necessarily in this order):
• Introduction and welcome
• Information about the child
• Readings, music, poems
• Words about the importance of parenting
• Parental vows/promises (a celebrant can help with these)
• Words around the importance of wider friends and family
• Appointment of Guide Parents
• Reason for the name(s) and the naming itself
• Concluding words.

But it is important to remember that a naming ceremony is not just for babies. It can happen at any age. It could also be a wonderful way to welcome a child that you are adopting – creating a special bond as you acknowledge and welcome them into your family.

Some celebrants can even help with organising the whole event from finding your ideal location, creating the invitations to organising the catering. This really helps, taking the stress
and strain away – especially when you will have your hands full already!

And did you know a celebrant is not just for naming ceremonies? A qualified celebrant can write a completely tailored wedding or commitment ceremony, renewal of vows or celebration of life ceremony. And, like a naming ceremony, these can be held anywhere – they do not have to be at a licenced venue.

Alexandra Harrison is a qualified independent celebrant.
Contact Alex for a friendly informal chat about your ceremony on 07983 415 784 or visit her website
for more information www.alexandra-harrison.com

Alexandra also runs a baby naming facebook page see www.facebook.com/BabyNamingWithAlexandra/

Cycling on the road with children

By | Education, family, Safety, Sport | No Comments

How can you prepare a child for the demands of cycling on a road? Some parents will balk at letting their children near roads with traffic, let alone on them. It would be foolish to pretend there are no risks involved. However, at some point your child will use roads alone – if not on a bike, then as a pedestrian or behind the wheel of a car as a young adult. Those who are used to independence and who can make risk assessments will be safer, better road users than those who have been isolated from the outside world. It doesn’t require leaping in at the deep end. Exposure to traffic is something best done by degrees.

Co-riders and passengers
To begin with your child will travel on the road under your direct control, either as a passenger in a seat or trailer or as a co-rider on a tandem or trailer-cycle. As steering and braking are under your sole control, the only impact will be on how you cycle.

You will inevitably ride in a less swashbuckling style. Mostly it’s because you are always more careful when kids are around; it’s human nature. Partly it’s because a heavier bicycle takes longer to get up to speed and to slow down, so your riding benefits from being smoother and less stop-start. Try to anticipate junctions by arriving slowly and in the right gear for setting off. Allow the extra second or two you’ll need to pull away when judging gaps in traffic.

A child on a tandem or trailer-cycle or in a cargo bike may pick up some traffic skills from you whilst you are riding. You can reinforce this by asking an older child to see if there’s anything behind and to signal left or right when needed. (You will still have to do both these things yourself if it is safe enough.)

Tandems remain useful up to the age of 11 and possibly beyond. By that age, though, most children will want to ride solo. One reason is image. The desire to conform becomes very strong and children don’t want to be seen as ‘different’ by their friends. The tandem that was once so popular may now be seen as geeky.

Chaperoned cycling
Traffic awareness develops around the age of eight to 10 years old, which is usually when school-based cycle training tends to start. Up until that time, at least, you will need to supervise your child on roads. He or she might be a proficient cyclist and yet make misjudgements about traffic.

Before you set off
Before setting out together there are some things you need to be sure of. One is that your child can stop, start, steer and otherwise be competent at cycling – on a bike that’s roadworthy. Another is that your child will respond to your instructions, doing what you say, when you say it. Do explain the reasons for this in advance: that you’re not being bossy or cross, just careful. The final requirement is that your child knows the difference between left and right. When you say ‘go left’ it’s important your charge doesn’t cycle into the centre of the road instead.

On the road
When you’re riding, it’s best if your child leads and you cycle a bike length or half a bike length behind. That way you can watch your child at all times and call out instructions. Your child should ride towards the left side of the road, but at least 50cm out from gutter, while you ride further out, possibly taking the lane. This means traffic has to come around you and can’t cut in too close to your child, who might veer or wobble or simply be freaked out by cars passing too close.

If you need to do so, it is perfectly legal to cycle side-by-side with your child. (Many drivers are unaware that cyclists can ride two abreast, so be prepared for the odd pipped horn.) It’s worth moving forward to ride alongside as you come up to a side road. Two cyclists are more visible than one, and with both of you to pass, any side-road driver is less likely to engage in the brinkmanship of edging or accelerating out in front of you.

Give encouragement as you ride along and make your instructions calm and clear.
Information should flow both ways. In particular, your child should be taught to say ‘Stopping!’ rather than halting right in front of you without warning. Ideally, your child should also signal left before pulling in to the side. (No one uses the one-armed up-down flap that signifies slowing down nowadays, and it may only confuse drivers.)

Start on easier, less trafficked roads and work up. There will be situations in which it is easier or necessary to get off the bikes. Perhaps a hill is too steep. Perhaps a junction is too complex. In time your child will be able to ride these. For now, take it one step at a time. And remember: communication, communication, communication.

Independent cycling
Independent cycling means riding on the road. Children cycling on the pavement is illegal, but there is no criminal liability for children under the age of 10, and it is tacitly accepted by everyone that the pavement is where younger children will ride. By the age of 11, however, and perhaps two or three years earlier, (if you feel they are capable of it) most children can learn to ride safely on the road without supervision – not on all roads but certainly on roads that aren’t busy and don’t have complex junctions.

Cycle training has traditionally taken place in the later years of primary school. Not only are children ready for training then, they will soon need it. The average distance from home to secondary school is 3.3 miles in England – too far to walk perhaps, but not difficult by bike. Training has moved on quite a way since the cones-in-the-school-playground days of the Cycling Proficiency Scheme. The National Standard for Cycle Training (called Bikeability) takes place largely on the road in real-world, supervised conditions. And the training itself is no longer administered by schoolteachers but by qualified, accredited cycle instructors.

Local authorities sometimes provide free or subsidised training. Your nearest cycle training provider can fill you
in about charging policy.

Taken from www.cyclinguk.org
To see the full article visit www.cyclinguk.org/article/cycling-guide/cycling-
road-children

There’s a puncture out there with your name on it!

By | family, Health, Safety, Uncategorized, Winter | No Comments

So said the marketing campaign from Bridgestone at the launch of DriveGuard, their “game changing tyre innovation, which places safety and convenience in every driver’s seat. ”Contentious comment? Yes! Good solution for safer family driving? Read on and find out what we thought…

On average, every driver can expect to have six punctures in their lifetime and 27% of all roadside emergencies are tyre related. And don’t forget, a flat is not just an inconvenience. If a puncture happens rapidly, you have less control, less braking capability and are more susceptible to the prevailing road conditions. If it happens slowly, you may not even be aware you have a puncture for some time. That can affect your fuel consumption, road handling and even braking distances, particularly in wet or icy conditions. That is why all cars made after November 2014 are now required by law to have a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) built in. There are a variety of systems from the various car manufacturers as well as third party products that can be retro-fi tted to older vehicles, but fundamentally the TPMS alerts the driver that tyre pressure is low and that there may be a problem with one or more of your tyres. Over time, all tyres will lose pressure, including your often forgotten spare, so regularly check and top up your pressures as per your car manufacturers recommended levels. Whether you’re on the school run, driving to work, going home or meeting with friends – there’s never a convenient time for a puncture. In fact, in 23% of cases, punctures happen during the evening or late at night which adds additional stress and anxiety to the situation. Of these, more than 50% happen in inconvenient locations and no driver wants to fi nd themselves stranded, changing their tyre on the side of a busy road, in the dirt, in the rain, in the dark. Particularly if you’ve a young family on board. It’s perhaps no surprise that 72% of women and 33% of men don’t change their own tyre. However, if there’s no cellphone reception to call for assistance – you’re on your own!Where is the spare? Has it any air in it? Is it under all the luggage? Where are the locknut keys? Where is the jack? No wheel spanner! Is that skinny temporary thing really the spare? You fill it with what!?
With over 60% of drivers experiencing a puncture in the last four years – leading to feelings of helplessness and insecurity combined with lost time of up to three hours – the Bridgestone team have comeup with a very, very good answer to the problem. DriveGuard can, in practically all conditions, help prevent accidents resulting from punctures, sudden loss of pressure or other types of tyre damage. It provides a safe and reliable solution, allowing drivers to wipe their hands clean of inconvenient puncture scenarios.So how does it work?
At the moment of puncture, you still have complete control over the vehicle and are made aware of the problem by your PTMS on the dash. You can continue to move with the traffic without immediately having to pull over or risk driving on and shredding the tyre. A flat tyre leads to rubber deformation which generates heat or friction; by using a special patented compound, Bridgestone has created a high-tech cooling fi n design in the sidewall that channels the increased heat from the sidewall towards the rim and thus helps to preserve the tyre.Based on state of the art technology, DriveGuard’s sophisticated tread pattern helps evacuate water to resist hydroplaning, while engineered sipes increase the number of biting edges to enhance wet road traction. As a result, Bridgestone DriveGuard has achieved the highest rating in wet grip performance (EU Tyre Label: A grade) with short braking distances, while offering a level of comfort comparable to conventional tyres, placing it at the frontline of road safety.The new age DriveGuard technology uses a proprietary high-tech cooling fin design as well as supportive and tough reinforced sidewalls which allow drivers to maintain control and continue driving safely and comfortably for 80km at up to 80kmph (50 miles at 50mph) after a puncture; fast enough and long enough to arrive safely at their desired destination or to seek assistance at a convenient service point.We drove a standard saloon car, with a deliberately punctured tyre for over 10km, and it handled just like a normal car. In fact, one of the other review teams managed to have a SECOND puncture during testing, and drove trouble free with both front tyres blown!“Bridgestone DriveGuard empowers you to keep moving and avoid the immediate burden and unsafe circumstances of a fl at tyre; drivers get to choose when and where they have their tyre replaced – within the indicated speed and distance limits. Our revolutionary new technology will considerably contribute to road safety and give drivers additional peace of mind and convenience while on the road,” said Eduardo Minardi, Executive Chairman of Bridgestone EMEA. Bridgestone DriveGuard eliminates the need to carry a spare tyre and is environmentally conscious due to being fully recyclable. That means less weight so less fuel and 20% fewer tyres required per car so less material required.Despite the impressive safety benefi ts and convenience advantages, a full set is only marginally more expensive than any other premium tyres of the same size. Your vehicle will be safer, lighter and have more space on board.So, in our opinion Driveguard offers a major contribution to road safety and all family cars should have them fi tted whenever practically possible!
www.bridgestone.co.uk
www.facebook.com/Bridgestone.EU
www.twitter.com/bridgestonetyre
www.linkedin.com/company/bridgestone-europe

 

Five favourite toys for under fives

By | family, fun for children, Toys, Uncategorized | No Comments
by Kerin McDonald
Fennies Day Nurseries Ltd

Our five favourite toys for under fives come from a form of play that we use in everyday life at Fennies Nurseries called ‘Loose Parts Theory.’ It is not a newly invented form of play nor are the ‘must have toys’ anything new, but they are all magical and treasured by children and therefore loved by us and by parents. The ‘toys’ don’t have instructions and can be played with on their own or in combination. Better still, they inspire creativity and inventiveness and can be found all around us, in nature and around the home.

1. A stick
What is it about little boys and sticks, or little girls and sticks for that matter? The stick is our number one for good reason. Sticks can become anything from swords to pirate flags to wands, pens and markers. They can be used in high action adventures or to build dens or they can be used for drawing in the dirt or sand, or to practise writing and numbers. A stick can be a boat or a raft and raced under bridges or they can be bridges themselves. Children play with sticks on their own or combine them with other sticks or toys (or with other children). Sticks can be any shape, size and colour and are also super in a great big pile of sticks. Bigger seems to be better although there are no limits to the size of a stick, (other than what can be held, at which point a stick becomes a log.) We have an assortment of smaller sticks adorning our nursery hallways and these are regularly updated for newer and ‘better’ sticks. Best yet, sticks are cost-effective toys and, in this case, they do actually grow on trees.

2. A box
A toy nearly as versatile and valuable as a stick. Boxes come in many different sizes, shapes and colours and can be used indoors and outdoors. Boxes transform into ships, cars, trains or any mode of transport. A box can be a chair, a den or a cave. If a large box is squished on one side it becomes a slide. Boxes can be used on their own or combined to become building blocks, treasure chests or beds and they can become houses and resting places for teddies or dolls. It is no surprise that more often than not, new expensive toys are discarded in favour of the box and wrapping they came in. Boxes come in all shapes and sizes, very large and very small boxes are favoured and boxes with lids stimulate even more imaginative play. You might have to buy something to get a box or you can get boxes free of charge from supermarkets or shops.

3. A cardboard tube
Hours of fun once the paper towels, toilet roll or wrapping paper are used. A cardboard tube brings delight and wonder to children of all ages but especially those under five. Tubes come in a variety of sizes and children adapt their use accordingly. A cardboard tube is most commonly transformed into a telescope or a megaphone, however, it can be as versatile as a stick. Cardboard tubes are not as robust as sticks but they are a more practical choice if being used indoors. Tubes can become tunnels, funnels or slides for other toys. Cardboard tubes are not free, however, you will find that many items around the home have a cardboard tube inside them and once they have been played with over and over and over, a cardboard tube can be recycled.

4. Water
We are not sure if water can really be classified as a toy as it needs a receptacle, however, it is marvellous to play with. Ironically, children don’t always love being in water but they do adore playing with water. Water, requires close supervision but there doesn’t need to be a large amount to excite or inspire. Water can be swished, swirled, splashed, bubbled, spilt or poured. It is a wonderful texture and makes great sounds and movements. Water can also be magically transformed into ice or snow which has infinite possibilities for never ending play.

5. Dirt
Finally, a controversial toy or play thing, yet one with endless play opportunities and with probably the highest success rate with children under five. Dirt is fun and children absolutely love to get messy. Dirt can be dug, spread, piled, heaped and used in all manner of ways that only children understand. Dirt can be found in many different places and if you add water, dirt gets even more exciting as it miraculously changes into mud! Although children love to bring dirt inside, it is really an outside toy especially when combined with other toys or water. Dirt is by its very nature, dirty, but it is easily washed away and it is worth the clean-up for such a wonderful toy.

Kerin McDonald is a mummy of two boys under five and is Head of Marketing for Fennies Day Nurseries Ltd, a group  of ten, family run nurseries across Surrey and South London.
Established 25 years ago, Fennies offers wonderful childcare and learning for children aged three months to five years. www.fennies.com

A guide to spotting loneliness in children

By | children's health, Education, family, Health, Mental health, Relationships | No Comments
by Karen Dolva
CEO and co-founder of
No Isolation

Loneliness, like many psychological distresses, is difficult to spot. Recently, it has been extremely present in the national news and has been labelled an epidemic. The fact that loneliness has been increasing as a topic of discussion is very important, as one of the biggest issues is the taboo that surrounds it.

Loneliness is difficult to describe and verbalise, and children especially can struggle with this. They may understand that something is wrong, but not grasp how to verbalise their feelings, or even if they should. Spotting ‘symptoms’ of loneliness is difficult, as loneliness is a very subjective feeling. It is not possible to give a ‘one size fits all’ diagnosis. To give one could mean that some lonely children are overlooked, or children experiencing depression or anxiety are misdiagnosed.

Parents may often sense that something is wrong, but spotting and understanding the exact trigger can be difficult. Having spent the last two years researching and trying to fully comprehend the depth of the problem, I share below my best suggestions to spotting loneliness in children:

Normalise loneliness
For adults, loneliness is a stigma, which means that often we are not open enough about it with each other, let alone with our children. Creating a taboo around loneliness makes it a subject people can be very self-conscious or shy about.

As a consequence of this taboo, many people are not educated on what loneliness actually is, or what it feels like. In the British news, several people in different newspaper articles admit that they either did not recognise the feeling of loneliness or did not understand that they were lonely. They thought it was something typically experienced by older people, and that they were too young.

In truth, loneliness is a normal, but also very subjective, feeling. Typically, when simplified, the feeling is best described as a discrepancy between desired and actual social contact. Loneliness does not discriminate on age or borders, and at some point in life we all experience it. Big changes in our lives make us particularly vulnerable. Despite loneliness being something many experience, the magnitude varies from person to person.
To understand this, we have to start making loneliness a topic that we feel comfortable discussing.

Big changes make children vulnerable
As children grow older, they become more aware of big changes, and are more acutely aware of the impact that these changes can, and do, have on their environment.

This shift makes them more vulnerable to feeling lonely. This is especially common in children moving from primary to secondary school, or to a different city or country as they experience changes in their environment, their routines and their peer groups. Because this, to an adult, is ‘normal’, it can mean that those suffering from chronic loneliness and isolation during this period of childhood can be overlooked.

When talking with Dr Gerine Lodder, who researches loneliness amongst young people, she shared that “80% of parents underestimate or overestimate the level of loneliness of their child”. This could be for a number of reasons, and could include overlooking a chronically lonely child, or assuming loneliness and social isolation when the problem is quite different. To avoid this, parents should be open with their children about what these changes might mean for them, and receptive to their concerns, apprehensions or fears.

What to do when loneliness has been spotted?
Parents have the role of spotting loneliness, and discussing it
with their child. However, some cases of loneliness and social isolation are chronic, and once this is identified further help should be sought.

3-10% of children experience chronic loneliness, that cannot simply be cured by meeting new people, and may need the help of a professional. It is important that parents try to understand if the feeling is from internal or external factors, if it is new and if it is solvable. That way they can start to work on a solution.

Social isolation can be obvious in some circumstances, for example a child who has no friends or social contact and struggles to fit into their environment. Yet, as mentioned above, many can feel lonely without recognising the emotion or without actually being socially isolated.

My best tip: To spot if your child is lonely, you need to explain the emotion and normalise it. Distinguish the difference between this and other emotions, and figure out the magnitude of your child’s experience. The stigma around loneliness needs to be broken. If children learn that being lonely is a failure by them socially, then they are less likely to admit it is something they are feeling.

Being lonely is a very normal feeling that we all experience from time to time, and opening up the discussion around loneliness will help children verbalise their feeling and, in turn, allow parents to give them the help that they need.

(www.noisolation.com) an Oslo-based start-up founded in 2015, with the goal of reducing involuntary social solitude.

A guide to international child relocation

By | family, Legal, Relationships, Uncategorized | No Comments

If following a relationship breakdown you are thinking about relocating abroad with your children, you will need to be aware of the relevant legal rules. You will need specialist advice from a solicitor to help the relocation to take place smoothly. In the excitement of a move abroad, taking legal advice may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, making sure the legal boxes have been ticked will mean that there are fewer complications following the move, leaving you and your family to enjoy your new home.

When do situations of child relocation arise?
The desire to relocate with children often occurs in international families where one parent is from another country and wishes to return to their home country following a relationship breakdown. This commonly happens when that parent wants to be closer to their family or maybe they have a new job offer abroad. Sometimes the parent has a new partner who lives aboard or they together decide for lifestyle or other reasons that a relocation is the best thing for their new family.

Can I just leave with my children if I want to relocate abroad?
Relocation to outside of England and Wales requires permission of the other parent and anyone else that has parental responsibility (as indeed does a holiday unless there is a relevant Court Order already). Parental responsibility gives a person rights and responsibilities for the children which includes the right to decide whether a relocation takes place. A mother will automatically have parental responsibility. A father will also have it if he meets certain criteria. Sometimes, others may have parental responsibility too, such as grandparents. Your solicitor will check all this for you.

How do I seek permission to relocate with my children?
You can seek permission directly or with the assistance of a solicitor. Seeking specialist legal advice at the earliest possible stage is sensible as your solicitor will provide you with lots of useful advice about how best to increase your chances of gaining permission. At the beginning, you may not want the other parent to know that you have a solicitor. Therefore your solicitor will guide you on how best to ask for permission yourself. It is always a good idea to get the permission in writing and your solicitor will advise you about this.

Relocating with children without the necessary permission is child abduction and this is why it is really important that you have specialist legal advice early.

What do I do if the other parent refuses their permission to the relocation?
Unless some exceptions apply, you would need to attempt mediation with the other parent. Mediation is an alternative way of resolving a dispute without going to Court. An impartial and professionally qualified mediator will assist you to reach a mutually acceptable settlement after exploring the issues around the relocation. Your solicitor can recommend an appropriate mediator and you can continue to consult with your solicitor in between mediation sessions. If mediation is successful and you reach an agreement with the other parent then it will be possible to make that agreement legally binding so that once you have relocated, you cannot be accused of child abduction. If mediation is not successful, your solicitor will advise you about making a Court application for the Court’s permission for the relocation.

Is my Court application to relocate with my children likely to succeed?
The success of your application will depend on very thorough planning. You will need to show the Court that the relocation is in your children’s best interests. Most parents will only be considering relocating if they truly believe it is best for their children. One of the things your solicitor will do to show this to the Court is to prepare extremely detailed written evidence setting out why your relocation is important to your family, how it is in your children’s best interests and how it can work taking into account the practical factors such as the children’s development, schooling, housing needs and contact with the other parent. This is a very involved part of the legal process and you will need to work closely with your solicitor on this.

What happens when I have successfully relocated with my children?
You may have some things to tie up either just before you relocate or shortly after, depending on what the relocation Order specifies. This might be registering the English Order in the country to which you relocate, this can be helpful for both parents. Your solicitor will help you and put you in touch with a lawyer in the other country if needed.

Permission to relocate will give you peace of mind that you have legally done what is needed and so your move cannot be undone.

Mandeep Gill is a specialist Family Law solicitor at Venters Solicitors in Reigate. Mandeep’s particular expertise is in international children cases.
She can be contacted on 01737 229610 or via email,  mandeep.gill@venters co.uk or visit www.venters co.uk

Maximising family time

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Family time is important for your child’s development and happiness. In a world where we’re all so busy with our daily lives and work commitments though, it can sometimes be hard to find time together. This means we need to make sure we’re making the most of the time we do spend together, and make this time valuable and memorable too. So how can we do this? We’ve come up with a number of tip top tips to help.

1. Plan in your ‘dates’
One way of making the most of the time you spend with your child is to set aside perhaps one day a month or one night a week, where you do something you all enjoy together alone. You could go and see a movie, visit the park, or even play in the garden together. Maybe you could even set this time aside and mark the dates on a calendar. This will be a great way of not only remembering when you’ll be together, but also showing your child how much you value the time you have with them.

2. Turn daily tasks into ‘together time’
Are there any jobs you could get your children involved in doing with you, rather than just coming along with you? Do you need to go food shopping maybe? Well, why not turn this into ‘fun’ time and find food together. Need to make dinner? Then involve them in the cooking process. This will also benefit them as they’ll learn cookery skills and get to be creative with food. Doing jobs like this together might be messier and longer, but children should gain happy memories from it and you’ll be making the most of the time together too.

3. Tell a bedtime story
Another great idea is to tell them a story before bedtime. Rather than just saying ‘goodnight’, you could find a book in the library – there are loads of books out there for younger children – or if you’re feeling extra adventurous, why not make one up? That’s always fun! Their imagination will run any way you choose, which is great for their future development.

4. Have dinner together
Instead of eating dinner separately, why not eat at the table all together where everyone interacts? Having dinner together means you can ask
your child questions about their day or what they enjoy – they’ll love the fact you’re taking an interest, and it may teach them valuable social and developmental skills too.

5. Play games together
Instead of mum being in the living room watching television, dad on his laptop in the kitchen and the children in their rooms playing video games, why not turn all this off and have a good family game session and make the most of the time in the house together? It should be really funny, memorable and enjoyable, and whether your family’s favourite is Cluedo, Monopoly or Uno, your children will appreciate the time you spend with them – you also get to have a break from phones and the Internet too!

Kathryn Marchant is a mum of two and Marketing Manager at Novabods, a game that provides fun learning for 5-7 year olds. Kathryn specialises in writing content to support parents and give them helpful hints.
www.novabods.com